Meet the Team
Vara Prasad, University Distinguished Professor of Crop Ecophysiology, serves as the Program Director of SIIL. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in agronomy from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in India, and his Ph.D. in crop physiology from The University of Reading in England. He has extensive international experience in both Africa and Asia, and has had significant involvement with several USAID projects in these regions. His research focuses on understanding the response of food-grain crops to changing environments and management practices; developing strategies for management of crops, soil, water and nutrients for the efficient use of resources; and using farming-system approaches to provide food and nutritional security to smallholder farmers. Prasad provides leadership to SIIL and oversees all of the research, capacity building, knowledge sharing and communication activities of the program. He administers technical and financial aspects of SIIL and serves as the primary contact for donors, advisory groups and partner organizations.
B. Jan MiddendorfAssociate Director
B. Jan Middendorf serves as the SIIL Associate Director. She earned her B.S. in business administration at the University of Rhode Island, her M.S. in international affairs at Ohio University and her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction and evaluation practice at Kansas State University. Her primary interests are institutional and program improvement through strategic planning, change management and evaluation. She has over 25 years of experience in project development, management, implementation and evaluation of multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programs and projects in national and international settings. As Associate Director, Middendorf serves as the administrative officer alongside the Program Director and oversees the Management Entity (ME) in organizing activities to facilitate technical and administrative goals of the SIIL program. She conducts research and lead SIIL’s impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation efforts. She is responsible for establishing and maintaining effective partnerships with other U.S. and international institutions, industry, USAID Missions and developmental partners.
Manny ReyesResearch Professor
Manuel Reyes, research professor, has more than 30 years of experience working with water quality modeling, natural resources management and conservation agriculture. He is an agroecological engineer, designing food production systems that mimic nature. Reyes has extensive expertise across the globe in research, extension, teaching and project implementation. Reyes will focus his efforts in Cambodia working with the Royal University of Agriculture and University of Battambang to enhance human and institutional capacity to conduct research and training of scholars and youth. He will facilitate partnerships with other Feed the Future Innovation Labs, international organizations and private industry in Cambodia.
Jessie Vipham is a Food Microbiologist by training, and serves as the SIIL faculty hire in Global Food Systems and Nutrition. She holds a B.S. in Agriculture Business from Kansas State University, as well as an M.S. and PhD in Animal Science from Texas Tech University. While at Texas Tech, Jessie was involved with faculty members of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE). She is experienced in international food security research, and has spent a significant amount of time strengthening food systems in Latin America.
Zach StewartResearch Associate
Zach Stewart serves as the SIIL Research Associate. He earned his M.S. in Control of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has done extensive research on crop physiology and production as well as worked with smallholder farmers in East Africa on agronomic and human health topics. The 2008 recipient of the John Chrystal Award from the World Food Prize Foundation, Zach has been able to use his multidisciplinary background to advance agricultural production while keeping in mind the well-being of those impacted. As part of the SIIL management entity, Zach leads knowledge management and sharing efforts and conducts research related to global food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers.
Molly McKneight serves as the SIIL Program Coordinator. She supports the development of subcontract awards, research project monitoring, knowledge management, and oversight of the reporting and information platform. She holds a B.S. in Food Science and an M.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Purdue University. Molly has experience collaborating with international partners in Turkey, Senegal, and Haiti and has also worked for Purdue's Center for Global Food Security.
Katy Bach serves as the Business Manager for SIIL. She is responsible for all components of financial management, post-award accounting, procurement, travel planning, and business management of the Innovation Lab. Katy holds a B.S. in Business Administration and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Prior to joining the SIIL team, she worked with Kansas State University Athletics and numerous small businesses in their accounting departments.
Regional Coordinator - East Africa
Mr. Jovin Lwehabura has more than 10 years of experience working on applications of geospatial science & technology in sustainable management of natural resources. He holds an M.S. degree in Geographic Information Systems (MS GIS) from the University of Redlands, California as well as a B.S. in Geomatics from the University of Dar es Salaam. Mr. Lwehabura is a member of Global society for Conservation Geographic Information Systems (SCGIS). He has developed several GIS Databases, guide mapping and support implementations of land use planning for more than 50 local communities in Tanzania. Mr. Lwehabura currently works for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) under the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab. He is the SIIL's Coordinator in East Africa and lives in Arusha, Tanzania.
Shahida Sarker Parul
Regional Coordinator - Asia
Ms. Shahida Sarker Parul has about three decades working experience with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Her working area is adaptive research and technology transfer in the field of agriculture. She has worked in Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Fiji. She holds an MS in Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Agriculture from the Agricultural University of Norway and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Bangladesh Agricultural University. She has published about 36 research articles in different scientific journals on crops, social sciences and gender, and she has also developed several training materials and modules related to crop, livestock, aquaculture, nutrition and beneficiary selection procedure. Parul is currently working for International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) under the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab. She is the SIIL's Coordinator in Asia and lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Country Coordinator - Senegal
Aliou Faye has two decades of research experience with the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA), the French Institute of Research for Development and the International Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Development (CIRAD). Faye worked also for 5 years as Chief of Agency of a Saudi group dealing with non-timber forest products in the Tambacounda and Louga regions of Senegal. Faye holds a B.S. in Tropical Forestry, a M.S. in Agronomy, and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar with field experience at the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (CIAT) in Nairobi Kenya. Faye has published at least 20 research articles in different scientific journals. Faye is currently the head of the Soil-Water and Plant Laboratory of the Centre National de la Recherche Agronomique (CNRA) of ISRA in Bambey, Senegal and serves as the Country Coordinator of the SIIL in Senegal.